Category Archives: Francis’ Words

St. Francis’ Office of the Passion

The Passion of the Lord at Vespers
Devotional Offices dedicated to the Passion or to the Blessed Virgin have their roots in the Liber Precum (Book of Prayers) of the monastic tradition. Until the thirteenth century such Offices were recited in connection with the Liturgy of the Hours. At the time of Francis, however, these more devotional offices became increasingly independent and were seen as private prayers. Although it is difficult to date its composition, Francis’s Office of the Passion seems to have been composed at different times, a theory confirmed by his use of both the Gallican and Roman Psalters.

This is a Psalm that our most holy Father Francis compose in reverence, memory and praise of the Passion of the Lord at Vespers.

Antiphon: Holy Virgin Mary
Psalm [VII]
All you nations clap your hands
shout to God with a voice of gladness.
For the Lord, the Most High,
the Awesome, is the Great King over all the earth.

For the Most Holy Father of heaven, our King before all ages
sent His
Beloved Son from on high
and has brought salvation in the midst of the earth.
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult
let the sea and all that is in it be moved
let the fields and all that is in them be glad.
Sing a new song
to Him
Sing to the Lord all the earth.
Because the Lord is great and highly to be praised
awesome beyond all gods.
Give to the Lord, you families of nations,
Give to the Lord glory and honor
Give to the Lord the glory due His name.

Take up your bodies and carry His holy cross
and follow His most holy commands even to the end.
Let the whole earth tremble before His face
tell among the nations that the Lord has ruled from a tree.

He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the most holy Father in heaven
O God, be exalted above the heavens
and above all the earth be your glory.

We know that He is coming
that He will come to judge

Consolations at prayer.

The words of St. Francis and Brother Giles
Francis was miserly about one thing: Consolations at prayer.

Francis said, “When a servant of God is visited by the Lord with some fresh consolation
while at prayer, before leaving his prayers he ought to raise his eyes to heaven and say
to the Lord with folded hands: You have, O Lord, sent unworthy sinful me this consolation
and sweetness from Heaven, and I commit it back to you to save it for me, for I am a
thief when it comes to your treasure . . . Lord, take your good gift from me in this world, and save it for me in the world to come.

Brother Giles speaks on virtues and graces.

The graces of God and the virtues are a ladder and road to climb to Heaven,
but vices and sins are the road and ladder to go down to hell.

Vices and sins are poison. Virtues and good deeds are an antidote.

Grace attracts grace. And one vice leads to another vice.

Grace does not wish to be praised. And vice does not wish to be despised — that is,
a man who has grace does not want to be praised and does not seek praise. And, the
man who has vices does not want to be despised or blamed — which comes from pride.

The mind finds peace in humility. Patience is its daughter.

Purity of heart sees God. Devotion assimilates Him.

If you love, you will be loved. If you fear, you will be feared. If you serve, you will be served. If you treat others well, others will treat you well.

Blessed is he who loves and does not therefore desire to be loved.
Blessed is he who fears and does not therefore desire to be feared.
Blessed is he who treats others well and does not desire that others treat him well.
And, because these are great things, the foolish do not attain them.

There are three very great and useful things — whoever has them cannot fall into evil.
The first is: if you bear in peace, for God’s sake all the tribulations that may happen to you.
The second is: if you humble yourself more in everything you do and receive.
The third is: if you love faithfully those holy things that cannot be seen with your eyes.

Once Brother Giles asked a certain friar: “Have you a good soul?” He answered: “I don’t know, Brother.”
Brother Giles said: “Holy contrition — holy humility — holy charity — holy devotion –
and holy joy make the soul holy and good.”

(from the book “The Little Flowers of St. Francis)

The Virtues That Rout Vice

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility there is neither anger nor loss of composure.
Where there is poverty borne with joy, there is neither grasping nor hoarding.
Where there there is quiet and meditation, there is neither worry nor dissipation.
Where there is the fear of the Lord to guard the gateway, there the Enemy can get no hold for an entry.
Where there is mercy and discernment, there is neither luxury nor a hardened heart.

The Praises of God

St. Francis gives a Parchment to Brother Leo on Mount LaVerna about his Praises of God and the Blessing (From editions by Kajetan Esser and Duane Lapsanski ) Leo of Assisi, who was with Francis on LaVerna in the Fall of 1224, wrote in red ink on one side of this piece of parchment:
“Two years before his death, the blessed Francis spent forty days on Mount LaVerna from the Feast of the Assumption of the holy Virgin Mary until the September Feast of Saint Michael, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and blessed Michael the Archangel. The Lord’s hand was upon him.
After the vision and message of the Seraph and the impression of Christ’s stigmata upon body, Francis composed these praises and wrote them in his own hand, thanking God for the kindness bestowed on him.”

On the other side of the same parchment Brother Leo wrote:

“The blessed Francis wrote this Blessing for me with his own hand. “Then, in a similar way he made with his own hand this sign, a TAU (cross) together with a skull.”

The original parchment is now preserved in the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi.
In preparing the edition of these texts, Kajetan Esser relied on the work of Duane Lapsanski who had examined the original parchment with the help of infa-red technology and was able to read passages now illegible to the naked eye. Even with the aid of technology, the parchment was still illegible in certain places, particularly at the edges and on the folds. Lapsanski had the help of early manuscript copies of the texts and Esser, relying on a broader examination of those manuscripts, changed some of Lapsanski’s readings. As you will see below, these supplemental readings will be indicated by placing the text in bold print.

The Praises of God

By St. Francis, with editions by Duane Lapsanski and Kaietan Esser

You are the holy Lord God Who does wonderful things.

You are strong. You are great. You are the most high.
You are the almighty king. You holy Father, King of heaven and earth.

You, are three and one, the Lord God of gods; You are the good,
all good, the highest good, Lord God living and true.

You are love, charity; You are wisdom, You are humility;
You are patience, You are beauty, You are meekness;
You are security, You are rest; You are gladness and joy, You are our hope, You are justice;
You are moderation, You are all our riches to sufficiency.

You are beauty, You are meekness;
You are the protector, You are our custodian and defender;
You are strength, You are refreshment. You are our hope;
You are our faith, You are our charity; You are all our sweetness,
You are our eternal life, Great and wonderful. Lord, Almighty God, Merciful Savior.

From the book “Francis The Saint” (page 109)

St. Francis’ Sermon to the Birds

From “The Little Flowers of St. Francis” by Raphael Brown
And a tribute to the birds by Ruth Vogel, S.F.O.

“My little bird sisters, you owe much to God your Creator, and you must always and everywhere praise Him, because He has given you freedom to fly anywhere—also He has given you a double and triple covering, and your colorful and pretty clothing, and your food is ready without your working for it, and your singing that was taught to you by the Creator, and your numbers that have been multiplied by the blessing of God—and because He preserved your species in Noah’s ark so that your race should not disappear from the earth. And you are also indebted to Him for the realm of the air which He assigned to you. Moreover, you neither sow nor reap, yet God nourishes you, and He gives you the rivers and springs to drink from. He gives you high mountains and hills, rocks and crags as refuges, and lofty trees in which to make your nests. And although you do not know how to spin or sew, God gives you and your little ones the clothing which you need. So the Creator loves you very much, since He gives you so many good things. Therefore, my little bird sisters, be careful not to be ungrateful, but strive always to praise God.”
Now at these words of St. Francis, all those birds began to open their beaks, stretch out their necks, spread their wings, and reverently bow their heads to the ground, showing by their movements and their songs that the words which St. Francis was saying gave them great pleasure. And when St. Francis noticed this, he likewise rejoiced greatly in spirit with them, and he marveled at such a great throng of birds and at their very beautiful variety and also at their attention and familiarity and affection. And therefore he devoutly praised the wonderful Creator in them and gently urged them to praise the Creator.
Finally, when he had finished preaching to them and urging them to praise God, St. Francis made the Sign of the Cross over all those birds and gave them permission to leave. Then all the birds rose up into the air simultaneously, and in the air they sang a wonderful song. And when they had finished singing, according to the form of the Cross which St. Francis had made over them, they separated in an orderly way and formed four groups. And each group rose high into the air and flew off in a different direction: one toward the east, and another toward the west, the third toward the south and the fourth toward the north. And each group sang marvelously as it flew away.
Thereby they signified that, just as St. Francis who was to bear the marks of Christ’s Cross—had preached to them and made die Sign of the Cross over them, so they had separated in the form of a cross and had flown away, singing, toward the four quarters of the world, thus suggesting that the preaching of the Cross of Christ, which had been renewed by St. Francis, was to be carried throughout the world by him and by his friars, who, like birds, possess nothing of their own in this world and commit themselves entirely to the Providence of God.
And so, they were called eagles by Christ when He said, “Wherever the body shall be, there the eagles will gather.” For the saints who place their hope in the Lord will take on wings like eagles and will fly up to the Lord and will not die for all eternity.
To the praise of Christ, Amen

We Are Glad We Are Birds
by Ruth Vogel, from her book “Reflections of a Secular Franciscan”

Yesterday, again, I saw a great congregation of birds— in community, down at the end of my street; dotting the cables and populating the trees.
How many? I wouldn’t know!
There they were, wing to wing, all chattering gaily; perhaps excited in their joy of being birds — no cares for the moment — comfortable and at ease — their musical little voices talking together in comradery fashion, innocent and guileless.
They were selfless, tiny feathered friends — serene — satisfied just to be what they are — wee small birds.
What else? Nothing else — contented with that — simple, humble creations of God, though they didn’t know even that; free to fly — free from worry — free from jealousies; free and secure under the protective umbrella of the love of Almighty God.
“We are birds,” they twittered joyously. “We are glad we are birds.”